Heading to Japan soon? You may be wondering about luxury shopping in Japan, which is why we have got all the answers to the question, are luxury brands cheaper in Japan?
If you love luxury handbags, clothing, and shopping while on holiday, you may be thinking about the best places to find a great deal on a gorgeous handbag or new sparkling jewelry. Japan is well known for its incredible fashion and a plethora of shops to explore, but when it comes to shopping, are luxury brands cheaper in Japan?
We are going to answer this question so you know what to look out for next time you are in Tokyo, Osaka, or elsewhere in Japan, as well as some of the best places to shop for luxury goods, and finally some luxury pieces we think you should pick up while you are away.
Just keep reading to find out everything you need to know about luxury shopping before you head to Japan, so you can plan your trip properly!
Are Luxury brands cheaper in Japan?
Generally, luxury brands are marginally cheaper in Japan when compared to the US, as you get to claim a 10% tax refund. While the price of products is generally very similar, the tax refund allows you to save a little bit of money, which, if you’re buying a lot of items, can amount to a big sum!
Since most luxury brands originate from Europe, you will find that generally, they are almost always the cheapest in their home currency, the euro. In addition to this, the EU has generous VAT tax refunds, with Italy offering up to 15.5% money back, further solidifying the EU’s position as the best place to buy most luxury goods.
However, the inventory of products may be completely different in Japan. Plus, some of the top international brands, such as Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, will create exclusive products that are only available in certain markets. So, in our opinion, it’s always worth checking out the stores in Japan if you have a particular item in mind.
The Tax Refund in Japan
The tax refund you will receive for luxury fashion is 10% of the purchase, which makes it easy to find out how much money you will receive back. For example, if you spend 500,0000 yen in one store, you will receive 50,000 yen back – amazing! Although, there are several caveats and rules you need to be aware of before you start shopping.
How to qualify for the tax refund
Firstly, you need to look out for the Japan Tax-Free Shop sticker; this signifies the places where the products are eligible for a tax exemption. According to Global Blue, you must…
- Claim the tax refund on the same day as you make the purchase
- Claim it in the same store as you make the purchase
- Have your passport with you when you claim the refund
- You can claim a minimum of ¥5,000 and a maximum of ¥500,000 (approx. $3,800) in one day
The tax refund is only available for products that have not been used in Japan. This means that any consumable items, such as food, makeup, and skincare, have to remain sealed while you are in Japan; otherwise, you cannot access the tax refund.
To qualify for the tax exemption, you cannot be a Japanese citizen, you cannot be working in Japan and you have to be staying in the country for less than 6 months.
How to receive the Tax Refund
There are two different ways to access the tax exemption; firstly, you may be able to just show your passport to the sales assistant and they will remove the consumption tax, so you only pay the tax-free price.
If this is not possible, you must pay the full price and receive the tax refund later. If you have paid the full price, make sure to keep a record of the purchase and then head to the tax exemption counter that same day that you make your purchase to receive your refund.
The best places to shop in Japan
There are lots of incredible shopping malls and department stores all over Japan that are filled with top designer brands and luxury products.
Retail Areas To Check Out
Tokyo is the hub of luxury shopping in Japan, with the famous Ginza district home to high-end department stores such as Matsuya, Mitsukoshi, Omotesando Hills, and Wako. Omotesando, often referred to as the Champs-Elysées of Tokyo, is another area where luxury shopping can be found, including major brands like Fendi, Dior, and Loewe.
In addition to Tokyo, Osaka is another great destination for luxury shopping, with the Hankyu Umeda department store and the Shinsaibashi shopping district both featuring an array of luxury brands.
If you’re looking for discounted luxury fashion, the Gotemba Premium Outlets, located about an hour’s drive, or 2 hours on the train from Tokyo in Shizuoka, is a great option. With over 200 stores, including high-end brands like Gucci and Prada, you can find amazing deals on luxury goods. Plus, you get to see the beautiful Mount Fuji a little closer.
Alternatively, if you are in the Kansai region (Kyoto & Osaka), the Kobe-Sanda Premium Outlets, located about a 40 min drive from Osaka, will be closer to you. Here, you can find discounted items from brands like Moncler, Balenciaga, Celine, Bottega Veneta, and many more.
The resale market in Japan
New luxury goods from high-end brands may not be cheaper in Japan, but you will find some of the best luxury resale goods. Japan is quickly becoming one of the top countries in the world for second-hand products that are in great condition – so if you are a fashion lover on the hunt for incredible vintage pieces or a great deal, Japan is the place for you!
Japan has very strict rules around fake and knock-off goods, which means you can shop with confidence since the items in the store will be genuine luxury goods.
These luxury bags, clothes, and accessories are often in excellent condition because of how well each of the pieces has been cared for. Japanese people are generally known to be very careful and take great care of their luxury items, which means secondhand pieces are in excellent condition.
This means if you are happy with a sustainable second-hand bag, Japan is the place you need to go as you know the pieces will be genuine and you will find lots of bags from the most popular brands in top condition.
Resale stores To Check Out
If you are looking for second-hand luxury pieces then Komehyo is a great place to start. There are branches all across Japan, including Ginza and Aoyama and they source luxury goods from luxury dealers and customers who are looking to sell their designer bags, which means you can find a wide range of products from the most popular fashion houses.
Roko Shira is another fantastic place to find resale luxury bags, accessories, shoes, and jewelry, with stores in Osaka, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Ginza. This store is also affiliated with the Association Against Counterfeit Product Distribution, so you know the pieces in this store are genuine.
Finally, if you are looking for the lowest prices and the best deals, then you need to head to BrandFirst in Tokyo. This store has loads of new and second-hand pieces from brands such as Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Patek Philippe, and Rolex, that are sourced from all over the world.
Plus, often, the staff in BrandFirst are multilingual, speaking Japanese, Chinese, and English, making it a great place for any tourist.
Best selling Luxury Bags To Check out In Japan
While shopping in Japan, whether for new pieces or second-hand luxury goods, here are some of the top designer bags from the top luxury brands that we think you should keep an eye out for.
European fashion houses, like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Prada are among some of the best resale brands to go for, with pieces in excellent condition. At the same time, you may want to check out Issey Miyake, which may be a little cheaper because the label is Japanese.
1. Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton is one of the most popular luxury brands in Japan so you should be able to easily find lots of new items and resale pieces available. The Louis Vuitton OnTheGo tote is a great bag to look out for since it isn’t so in demand as the Neverfull but is just as stylish and practical.
This OnTheGo tote is crafted from classic coated canvas, this time decorated with a giant edition of the LV monogram, while the top handles and back of the bag feature the reverse LV monogram. The spacious interior is lined with contrasting red canvas and fitted with three pockets, plus there are two long shoulder straps so there is a whole range of ways to wear this chic tote.
If you are looking for something a little more paired-back and chic, the Louis Vuitton Twist bag is a great option to go for. This stylish Louis Vuitton handbag is crafted from textured and tactile epi leather, in a beautiful pink tone, and then embellished with sparkling silver hardware for the LV twist lock and chain link shoulder strap with a leather shoulder pad for comfort.
The interior features an Alcantara lining and is fitted with an interior pocket – just perfect for all your daily essentials items. This is the ideal everyday handbag that will look stunning and will suit a wide range of outfits.
We love the Gucci Bamboo 1947 top handle bag to add a little heritage and a vintage touch to a handbag collection. This bag was first introduced to customers in 1947 and has remained a popular Gucci bag ever since.
Crafted from shiny cuir leather, the most striking element of this handbag is the curved bamboo top handle, which is totally unique, and the matching bamboo twist lock on the front flap. This bag comes with both a webbing shoulder strap and a leather shoulder strap so you can adapt the bag to suit you and style it in so many different ways! Inside you will find a zip pocket and an open pocket with a handy little mirror.
The Gucci Horsebit 1955 medium bag has a smarter, more refined look, making it ideal for work or just to add a touch of sophistication to your outfit. The bag is made from GG Supreme canvas, for that quintessentially Gucci looks, and then finished with a luxe brown trim.
The leather front flap is decorated with a gleaming gold horsebit, referencing the brand’s equestrian roots, which then opens to a spacious interior that is split into two main compartments and is fitted with a zip pocket so it’s easy to keep everything organized. The top handle, chain strap, and detachable leather strap mean there are loads of different ways to wear this bag.
3. Saint Laurent
How can you resist the luxe, sumptuous look of the Saint Laurent Small Loulou Leather Shoulder Bag?! This practical and gorgeous shoulder bag is crafted from shiny Italian leather, which has been matelassé stitched in a Y design for a plush finish.
The front flap is embellished with a gleaming gold YSL logo, matching the gold chain strap that can be worn on the shoulder or across the body. Not only does this bag look amazing, but the interior is perfect too, with the central zipper pocket divider, splitting the bag into two compartments and an extra slip pocket, making it easy to find just what you need.
For something a little more minimalist and functional, go for the Saint Laurent Shopping Leather Tote. This timeless and classic leather tote has a relaxed structure, ideal for daily wear, and is fitted with two comfortable looping shoulder straps to slip over your shoulder.
The front of the bag is just decorated with a small silver foil Saint Laurent logo for a sleek look, while the interior is really roomy the bag comes with a tethered zip pouch so you don’t lose any small items at the bottom of your bag. This elegant tote is available in a wide range of colors, so there is a shade to suit any personal style, and retails for just $1,450.
4. Bao Bao Issey Miyake
Bao Bao Issey Miyake is an incredible Japanese designer brand that you should definitely take a look at when you are in Japan. The Bao Bao Issey Miyake bags are instantly recognizable because of their prismatic finish, which makes them super unique and eye-catching.
The Lucent Tote is made from tessellating glossy black triangles that move and shift in the light to really sparkle. The gorgeous tote is finished with top handles that are adjustable so you can carry this tote in your hand or over your shoulder, while the interior is fitted with a handy zip pocket so you can always find just what you need.
If you are looking for something a little smaller, but still attention-grabbing, go for the Bao Bao Issey Miyake Kangaroo Color block Crossbody Bag. The shiny PVC triangle sits atop a mesh base, to really highlight the striking design of this handbag.
We love the incredible color block design, with a white front flap and grey body to the bag, creating a shadow-like effect. The top zipper opens to a spacious interior, fitted with a wall pocket, that is just the right size for your everyday must-have items. The crossbody strap is adjustable so you can wear this bag on your shoulder or across the body, and it retails for just $525.
We hope you found this article answering the question of are luxury brands cheaper in Japan helpful!